The wrestling world is collectively in mourning today. WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, the father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has passed away. He was 75 years old.
Born Wayde Douglas Bowles, Johnson initially tried his hand at boxing, sparring with the likes of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman before going into wrestling.
Johnson rose to prominence on the wrestling scene with various promotions in the 1960s and 1970s, during which he went by the ring name Rocky Johnson. He would feud with such WWE legends as Jerry “The King” Lawyer, Terry Funk and Harley Race as his popularity grew.
Over the course of his career, Johnson would win dozens of title belts before signing with the World Wrestling Federation in the early-1980s. It was there that Johnson would become a trailblazer for the company now known as WWE.
Together with future Hall of Fame wrestler Tony Atlas, Johnson won one half of the WWF Tag Team Championship in 1983, making them the first African-Americans to hold the prestigious titles.
Terrible news breaking tonight. WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, father of @TheRock, has sadly passed away, aged 75.
Alongside Tony Atlas, Johnson was one half of the first ever black WWF tag team champions.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest In Power, Rocky 🙏 pic.twitter.com/tnplMM5AwW
— Wrestling Travel (@WrestlingTravel) January 15, 2020
Johnson retired in 1991, and began training his son Dwayne to wrestle, too. Dwayne would go on to sign a developmental deal with WWF, and the rest is history.
In 2008, Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in the same year as his father-in-law, “High Chief” Peter Maivia.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Johnson’s family and loved ones.